"On her tongue is the law of kindness..."

"On her tongue is the law of kindness..."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's About Being Willing to Listen and Accept Correction

The biggest issues you and I will ever face will be within the framework of our relationships. Whether it's our marital relationship, or our relationships with our friends, family members, work associates, etc. We are people living and dealing with the personalities and challenges of others, as well as those of ourselves.

Today during our church service, guest speakers Denny and DeAnza Duron spoke on how relationships grow and thrive in an environment of honor. To honor one another you have to favor them, to speak well of them (whether you are in their presence or not), and prefer them to yourself. That doesn't mean that we will always excel in this area - there are plenty of times where I haven't honored those in my life as I should have in the words I've spoken about them, but God is able to fill in the gaps where we mess up when we are willing to acknowledge our mishap.

In order for me to understand when I've overstepped a boundary or said something I shouldn't have, I have to be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal it to me, and then make a correction. The Holy Spirit is a still, small voice, and it's easy to ignore when he's offering correction. If you look at a parental relationship, a mother or father will gently correct a child when they do something wrong in order to prevent that issue from growing into something larger (back-talking, interrupting, bad attitudes, jealousy, etc.); to not correct a child would allow that issue to settle in and create larger problems as they grow up. The Holy Spirit never corrects us to condemn us or make us feel unworthy, but to offer a small course correction in an area of our lives that, if left uncorrected, would create larger problems for us in the future.

This morning, there were several individuals who came to mind throughout the service that the Holy Spirit quietly corrected me about. Individuals that I have harbored an issue with and allowed to settle into my heart. The problem with allowing something to fester and grow in your heart is that it always comes out in your speech. You can't hide it after a while. If you want to know if you're harboring anything against anyone, listen to your conversations - who do you tend to speak about in a negative way? Who do you generally have an issue saying something nice about? Who are you quick to judge and criticize for how they behave and the decisions they make? For me in my life, those are the individuals that I find I've allowed an issue to fester around.

God gave us tremendous power to speak words of life, to build up those around us, to encourage and uplift others, and to mirror Christ in every area of our lives. But, oftentimes, we choose to focus our attention on criticism and judgement. Your speech reveals your heart. And, sometimes our hearts are ugly.

What's even more amazing, is that when we fall incredibly short in an area of our lives (and we will), God's grace is there. We can confidently come into His presence and let Him know we messed up, let Him know that we didn't represent Him and His character as we've experienced it and He's shown us. But in that moment, we are able to walk away clean and forgiven, and we are empowered to extend the same grace and forgiveness to those in our lives with whom we have relationships with. God is always calling us to a higher standard; stretching us and molding us so that we continue to grow more and more like Him. But, the only way we can do that is if we're willing to listen when He speaks to us and make the correction He's offering.

"Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil, hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle."

- Romans 12:10 (MSG) "Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another." - Romans 12:10 (AMP)

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Nightmare

Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night in October my church hosts a month-long event called the Nightmare, a reality-based haunted house of sorts that seeks to showcase the top killers and issues facing teenagers (drugs, alcohol, suicide, car wreck, and other current issues). Generally, each year a room is dedicated to the issue of rape. I’m often asked why this room is important to the event from those who aren’t involved with it, and for me, the answer is simple: 1 of every 6 women has been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime in the United States, and 80% of those victims are under the age of 18 when the rape or attempted rape occurs (source: Rape Crisis Center).
This year is the second year my husband and I have been the rape couple (only married couples are allowed to be in the rape room), and even though many know the alarming statistics in the United States, I still get a lot of questions, comments, and surprised facial expressions from friends, family, and church members related to why we agree to act in the room each Saturday night. For me, personally, the answer lies in the tears. In every group that comes through the Nightmare there is a percentage of girls who, when they enter our room, immediately look upset when they realize the issue that our room deals with. While no physical action is displayed by my husband and myself and only the implication is given through the scene, there are those who turn their heads, those who grab the hand of someone next to them, and those who stare straight into my eyes as tears begin to form in their own; it’s for those girls that I agree to do the room. Many of these girls have never told anyone what has happened to them or to someone they love, and the room acts as an outlet for them to express the hurt and pain they have felt and have never spoken. As the group exits for the next room, I begin to pray under my breath for each girl who has walked through our room, that they would be comforted, that they would experience true peace, and that they come to understand that they are not defined by what has happened in their past but that, through a relationship with God, they are complete, whole, perfect, nothing missing and nothing broken, and that their hearts would be open for prayer in the ministry tent and they would receive help.
During one of our meetings after Nightmare one evening, Pastor Bill talked about how all the effort, time, and energy we put into the Nightmare has to be worth it. It has to be our best every night because real people with real issues are going through and they need help. I think of the girls who go through our room often, and I picture mothers, sisters, friends, grandmothers, all who have prayed tearful prayers specifically for the girls who may happen to come through our room. It’s worth it. It’s all worth it because they are worth it.
"Ministry is never convient or comfortable." - Pastor Bill
"If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you." - Unknown

Monday, March 12, 2012

Feeling a little convicted...

Recently, there's been a huge conviction in my life. A couple weeks ago Pastor Bill was speaking about how when we invite individuals to church we are essentially inviting them to live our life - and what we've been living in front of them, oftentimes, is what will either draw them in or push them away. The weight of that is intense as you begin to think that how you speak, how you act, how you drive, how you park your car and order your food, how you respond when you're angry - all of these things are being noticed. Not only noticed, but will either present a case for or against an individual within your sphere of influence giving God an opportunity in their lives.
Of course we aren't perfect, but how we reflect Jesus is just that - we're a reflection of Him. In some cases, we might be the only reflection someone sees.
In Hebrews 13:1 it says, "Let love for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you [never let it fail]." Why? Because we're meant to carry that character of God. We're meant to be His representative, literally showing the world and exemplifying His Word on the earth. Yes, it's a lot of weight, and it's nothing we can do in our own strength. But as we spend time with God, as we read His Word and allow it to seed itself in our hearts, we begin to take on His nature; we begin to have understanding and discernment in situations; we begin to treat others not as how they appear or in accordance with how they may treat us or others, but we treat them with love. Because love is the nature of God. There are a lot of hurting people; individuals going through things that we can't even imagine, and someone truly caring for them - despite their beliefs, despite their sexual orientation, despite their gender or race, despite how they dress or where they're from - will mean more to them then you can imagine when it comes from a place of love.
You are a living testament as to whether or not God is real. As to whether or not His Word is true. As to whether or not someone you know, meet, or come across, will think to themselves, "maybe I'll give God a chance" simply because you showed love to them without judgement, without criticism, and without hesitation.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year's Resolution and Challenge

I'm not normally one for making resolutions - I don't like the idea of people only getting the intention of making changes to their lives once a year. I'm more of a monthly resolution girl - when you feel inspired to make a change, go for it! However, I have succumbed and here are my 2012 resolutions:

1. Be in the best shape and health of my life. Starting November 29th, 2011, the husband and I have been working out 4-5 times a week and changing our eating habits. With that being said, we want this to be a lifestyle change for us and not something that simply passes by. It has been difficult at time to organize our lives around the new changes, but it's something that requires us to put ourselves first in terms of our health: yes, it's easier to grab fast food or cook a meal that is made of processed food, but it's better for us in the long run to make healthy choices and take a little more time. It's forced us to slow down.

2. Focus on those in my life and challenge myself to be intent in pursuing friendships and relationships with the individuals in my life. I've thought of the individuals in my life who I truly admire and why, and it's usually something small: they ask how I'm doing and are genuine, they write thank you notes and are considerate of others. Small things; big difference.

3. Forgive always and quickly. Don't allow offenses any place in my life. It's so easy to allow others and their choices to affect our lives in terms of how we feel, what we think, and how we respond, but we are only in control of ourselves and we're responsible for our actions always. Forgiving others allows a freedom to have free reign in our lives - it releases others from our expectations of them that they failed to meet and allows us to love them unconditionally.

4. Pay attention. It is so easy for me to be proud of my ability to multi-task. I can do so many things at one time, it's true; however, I lose the enjoyment of my progress and success when I focus on how much I can do and not on what I'm actually doing. This year, I intend to focus and pay attention more.

5. Read a book each month. One of the reasons I loved being in college is that I loved learning, and I still do. I loved reading books for different classes, and after graduation I was so excited with all my free time that I put reading aside for a while. Well friends, it's time for reading to make a comeback this year.

These resolutions may be a little vague (not highly detailed in their intention) but that's the way I like them to be. I want to look at these resolutions a year from now and see progress in my life. I don't want another checklist of items to accomplish by a certain date - I want a progressive change to take place in my life over the course of this year. I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be pretty amazing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Free of Expectation

It has been a little while since I posted, but I don't like to post for the simple sake of posting; I like to have a purpose. I have been reading, and at times, re-reading Joyce Meyer's book "Power Thoughts," and there is a section that continues to stick out to me. On page 228 Joyce writes, "Learn to enjoy all different types of people, because many of our moments have people in them. I recently read that most of our unhappiness is caused from people not being what we want them to be or doing what we want them to do..."
So often, we frame expectations around individuals in our lives: how we think they should act, speak, treat us and others, raise their children; and without communicating our expectations (most often we shouldn't) we believe that they will somehow be aware of expectations and act accordingly. When they don't, we allow ourselves to become frustrated. How often have we left a party, a family member's house, a friend's company and said, "I wish they would have" or "They didn't say or do ___" or "I can't believe they ___?" It's because we placed an unrealistic expectations (unrealistic because they aren't aware of it and we expected them to be) upon their behavior that we had no right to.
How freeing would it be to remove any burden of expectation from the lives of those around you, including yourself, and have the only deciding factor in your life and the lives of others be God and His Word. That's it. We don't know the daily difficulties and personal situations of those around us, and to place an expectation on someone's behavior that they aren't aware of or that shouldn't even be placed upon them is setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration that can easily be avoided.
Free those in your life from having to live up to the expectations you have set for them, and allow yourself to not become entangled in the expectations that others have set for you. Live your life in accordance with God's Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to perform its perfect work in you, and live free of expectation.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall...and Nightmare

It's been a while, I know, but it's been a little in the Beach household. First off, it's fall and it's my favorite time of the year! I absolutely love fall for many reasons: scarves, rain boots, jackets, darker hair color changes (I worked at a salon for 3 years, I think of these things), hot cocoa, hot tea, hot beverages of any kind, Pumpkin Spice frappuccino at Starbucks, holidays, more family time, campfires, football and basketball...I could go on and on. literally.
But, one of my absolute favorite things is during the month of October my church puts on an absolutely amazing event: The Nightmare. Just in time for all the haunted Halloween houses to open, our church chooses to display real-life events and scenes that teenagers, and adults, face every day and the consequences that ensue. The entire event is put on by a cast made of church volunteers. As individuals finish their wait in line they are escorted through a domestic violence scene, a drinking and driving car wreck scene, a club scene, a drug/overdose room, a suicide, as well as a Jesus whipping room and Jesus on the cross. At the end of the Nightmare, each individual is given an opportunity to give their life to Jesus. This event is one that changed my life 8 years ago and one I am so passionate about because of the difference it made in my life. And each October when the season changes and the weather gets cooler it always feels like "Nightmare time."
It's been four nights and we've celebrated more than 1,800 salvations! It's truly a phenomenal event and one of my favorite things about fall.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"...within the walls of our own home."

It's been several months, lots of planning and organizing, loads of transition, but the hubster and I are finally in our new home. We moved in almost a week ago and it is so surreal. We, of course, are thankful to all of our friends and family for the amazing support, encouragement, and late nights of unpacking and putting furnitire and blinds together, but most importantly we are so thankful and amazed at the faithfulnes of God. The details we can go over in person, with a nice chat and a little cup of coffee, but just know that every decision we have made has been with peace and assurance that we are taken care of and blessed by an amazing and faithful God. No planning on or part, even though there was alot, could have ever resulted in us having our first house within our first year of marriage. It's all God and we like to keep it that way.
With that said, I am reminded of what has become one of my favorite quotes: "The most important work that you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own home," spoken so eloquently by Harold E Lee. What goes on behind closed doors of an individual's home has such an impact on their life - children learn how a relationship should function by what is displayed in front of them by their parents; a husband and wife are able to build up or tear down one another and the relationship they have forged by how they communicate and treat one another when no one is looking; you have the opportunity to craft your environment by what you allow to be spoken and entertained within your walls and who you allow entrance into your home. Ultimately, it's your choice, but the significance of what occurs within one's home affects you and those closest to you. It's simple for me: I am able to choose whether our house is a place of peace or a place of strife. We all have that responsibility and it is one that should not be taken lightly.
I visited a friend of mine's house (shoutout to Heidi M) last week and she taught me how to make the most delicious jam. However, when I walked into her home the first thing I noticed was how peaceful it was. *I am a firm believer that when you walk into someone's home you can tell if their house is peaceful or chaotic.* Yes, it was clean and wonderfully decorated, but it was the environment that she had created for herself and her husband that stood out to me the most. Her house was engulfed in peace.
As the hubs and I settle into our new home, we are paying careful attention to what we choose to entertain and allow entrance into our home. What may seem small and trivial to some is of the most importance to us - we have been blessed beyond what we could imagine and it's our responsibility to be good stewards of what is in our possession.